My Journey into CS

JavaScript Workshop: Ankita Sharma (R) & Laura Shea (L)

Before setting foot on Brown’s campus, I had not written a single line of code.

My exposure to Computer Science was comprised of experiences from “Take Your Child to Work Day” events that involved building towers out of marshmallows and watching my mom’s colleague dismantle a computer to show us the various little parts that made it work.

Truth be told, I was still left with a lot of unanswered questions. How computers work was still a phenomenon I could not fully grasp and the various programming languages seemed even more greek than greek itself. Despite the burgeoning void I had unintentionally developed with this field over the years, I still had a sincere appreciation for the impact of technology on my generation.

In a relatively short amount of time, the internet and computing have become great equalizers. Technology continues to be effectively harnessed to overcome societal barriers and to create a level playing field that traverses man-made boundaries. The power of technology and its relevance now (and going forward) inspired me to take a giant step and to do what it takes to become a part of this emerging field. I started by enrolling in my first Intro to Computer Science course at Brown and attending my first Hack@Brown workshop on HTML/CSS.

I still remember debating whether or not to attend, but at the last second, I decided to give it a shot and I am so glad I did.

HTML/CSS Workshop

The workshop was a fantastic and tremendously empowering experience. It was fun, engaging, challenging, and gave me a sense of accomplishment in a very short period of time that helped clarify what I wanted to study and do here at Brown. I started getting convinced that it was not too late to jump into CS and that it was possible to make the plunge into the deep-end without much experience. Everyone has to start somewhere!

During my first few months here at Brown, I have learned about APIs, Object Oriented Programming, and the power of conscientious and efficient design. Now, two months as a member of the Hack@Brown Workshops team under my belt, I have already led 2 workshops on JavaScript and Python.

At times, I am struck with that overwhelming and uneasy feeling that I have so much more to learn, but I’ve countered this with enthusiasm and tenacity because CS is FUN and I already feel that I can actualize my dream of becoming an innovator.

My role on the Workshops team has been to bring in people like me who are apprehensive about computing and programming, or quite frankly, don’t even know what that is!

Each workshop is geared towards promoting a friendly atmosphere that encourages people to ask questions, learn and, most importantly, to ENJOY the experience :).

The feedback we have received from our attendees has been incredibly motivating. I realize that we are all advancing together and I can certainly say that Hack@Brown has been an amazing learning experience for me too. Having never worked on a terminal or a programming language before, I am surprised at how far I’ve come and cannot emphasize enough that you can do it too!

I think one of the biggest things I’ve taken away from the challenge of stepping into a new area is that we all know a lot more than we think we do. Before leading my first workshop, I was doubtful whether or not I should be the one teaching since I was and am still learning. That thought still lingers, but I know that some of the greatest teachers have been those who have broken outside of their comfort zone and appreciate the courage needed to do something new.

On a final note, I am so grateful to be a part of the Hack@Brown team. The values and ideals of this group are admirable and resonate deeply with me. Focusing on personal growth and developing an intellectual community that welcomes people from all academic backgrounds is something I could not agree more with.

I am excited to continue contributing and lowering the entry barrier by deconstructing computer science for the aspiring innovators, problem solvers, and the curious newbies.